Friday, 26 May 2017

Building Experiences

This year I have learnt the value of providing rich experiences for my students, particularly as prompts for writing.  As the year has progressed, I have noticed that my students are asking to learn about a more diverse range of topics, from learning languages to learning about ancient history.

Over the past four weeks we have travelled to a farm and learnt about how farmers run their businesses, shear sheep and herd cattle. We have learnt to make scrambled eggs, dioramas, models and to play hockey. We have also learnt a little about Etymology and had a sign language lesson with a tutor from Deaf Aotearoa.

Learning to sign this week


From these experiences I have seen my students vocabulary increase and they have been able to create very rich pieces of writing. I have found the true value of language experiences and intend to utilise these to support my year six students in particular, as they are focussing on the recount genre this year.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Integrated Inquiry Approach




For the first part of the term,  our inquiry topic has been focussed on animals and being a responsible pet owner. I integrated maths, reading, writing, inquiry, technology and art as to maximise the amount of learning that could occur in the short time that we were given.

I was amazed by how much content we covered and how much the students learnt. My reading books aligned directly with the inquiry science lessons, where we investigated classification, adaptation and the food chain. I ensured that my students were engaging with multimodal text types each week and that we read a few texts that covered the topic in depth. I found that these reading lessons were very successful; the students made connections between their prior knowledge/ learning and between the texts.This aligned with a wide and deep reading approach, which Glenbrae and other Manaiakalani schools are focusing on at the moment.

                                                       Reading

In writing we investigated and wrote about responsible pet care, writing reports and letters about this. While we worked on addition and subtraction questions around buying items for our pets and visiting the vets in maths. The students were given technological challenges to create items that would support farmers and as a create activity for writing, my year six students created dioramas to illustrate the different environments that pets live in.


Creating dioramas to illustrate an animals habitat.

We are now looking at some of the big issues around animals, such as factory farming and animal testing, as part of our personal lines of inquiry and class sessions. These are promoting great discussion and debate. The students will be responding to these issues this week through poetry, to end our inquiry.

Overall, I feel I have learnt a lot from teaching this unit. This is the first time I have attempted to integrate as many subjects and it is something that I will definitely be doing again.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Reflecting on my first term!



I have done so much learning this term and can already think of so much I would change or do differently when I enter the first term next year. However, it has been a pretty successful first term and I have really enjoyed my time with the children.

I have found that our inquiry lessons have been pretty successful this term. The children were interested in the topic of global warming and the environment and we covered a lot of content by integrating reading, writing, health and social studies. We also created  and shared art that illustrated our view on environmental issues and I was impressed by the ideas that the students had and their creativity.

I have seen a lot of success in reading in particular, as my students have been able to meet the learning intention and create some wonderful DLOs in response to the text that they have read. I can tell that the students have been engaged, as they have consistently met deadlines, completed reading tasks at home and have frequently blogged about. 

In writing the majority of my class have consistently met the learning intentions and we have completed some fun activities. While I found strategies to support some of my reluctant writers faster than others, I was able to create some engaging writing activities at the end of the term that I hope to develop in term 2. 

While I have struggled in maths (check out my blog post here) I have come a long way in this area and I have definitely learnt some new strategies.

I'm really excited to apply this learning next term and to continue to develop as an educator!



Thursday, 6 April 2017

Maths Mayhem?

Teaching maths has been the largest challenge I have faced this term. I attempted to follow the problem solving approach, teaching half class mixed ability problem solving lessons 4 times a week, with one workshop. This had been an approach that we were taught through professional development last year and my school sought to continue. After struggling with this for the first seven weeks, I sent out a survey to determine what the students thought of our maths lessons. It was clear from the responses that the majority of students were unhappy. Some said that the problems were too easy, while others said that they were really struggling. I was having more behavioural problems in maths than in any other subject because of these emotional responses.

 I then tried to offer more materials to my learners who were struggling and to run a longer warm up at the start of the session to explain the concept to them. This helped them a little but they lost engagement by the end of the maths lesson. I also tried to do something similar for the high achieving students but in the end I really rushed through the lessons, conscious that this was surplus to the 'main' lesson that I was running that day. 


This was pretty amusing as I am about to start research looking at how teachers can differentiate their maths lessons in a mixed ability class. I was feeling pretty concerned, and I could even match my mistakes to those documented in the literature. However, the research inspired me to make a change, so I began to offer three workshops and got the students to opt in to at least one of them. This meant that I had enough time to cover the content at different levels of difficulty. Similarly, I  create different digital independent tasks and allow the students to choose which to use.


I run these workshops at the start of the week and ensure that they cover the concepts that the students will require to tackle the problem. I have also ensured that I have used open ended problems as much as possible, so that the students can alter the difficulty of the problem themselves. If I have to use set numbers in the problem, I will include the option to alter the numbers so that they are larger or smaller.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

learn, create, SHARE,

After conducting a presentation of my class site for a university assignment a few weeks ago,  I realised that it was time to confront my fear of public speaking. As such, Clarelle and I went to present about digital teaching to a group of Bed (Hons) students at the University of Auckland.

This was quite a daunting idea at first, but I decided to jump in and give it a go. With someone I trust by my side, I was able to deliver my presentation more confidently than I had done before and actually found it quite enjoyable.

            
                                                    Our Presentation

I also realised how far I had come in my digital knowledge since the start of my teaching career (only a little over a year ago).  Back then I was only just learning to use Google Docs and had just discovered my drive. I also used to really struggle to make videos or engage with multi-media. Now I have overcome these fears and I am using them more than ever - voluntarily filming videos with my class and editing them with ease.

I look forward to seizing more opportunities to share this knowledge and to speak about my journey with others. I think if I can make this much progress (with a lot of support) others can too, and I would love to aid in their digital journeys as well.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Digital Balance

One of the highlights of my week are my Friday mornings, as I am left with six students while the others go to technology at Tamaki College. It would be easy to use this time for finishing off work, or to facilitate quiet activities, but I see this as a huge opportunity to try out some more adventurous lessons and to offer my learners new experiences.

We are spending this time with technology lessons, where we are following the process of designing and creating new products. The students were eager to start with food technology, and we are currently role playing that we are a company who are tasked with designing new products for Pak n Save. Our tasks are growing more complex by the week, and I would like to end the term by creating a product and its (environmentally-friendly) packaging that can be 'purchased' by our fellow students.

video


In these lessons I have found a balance of digital learning, where the students conduct research into the products and look at recipe ideas, and practical learning,  where we have taste tests and use kitchen equipment. I have found that the digital components have enhanced what I am teaching practically. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Getting Creative

After engaging with a summer school paper regarding digital teaching and learning, I feel more inspired than ever to make greater use of the technology in my 1:1 Chromebook class.

This year about 95 percent of my students own a Chromebook and the others can work 1:1 due to the PC's that are available in my class. This has allowed me to step up my digital teaching and create more activities that align with the augmentation, modification and redefinition level of the SAMR model.
Using MnMs while looking at different types of graph in statistics

So far this year, the students have used Tagul to create posters, Infographics to convey statistical information, Answer Garden, Kahoot and Padlet to share their ideas, Google Forms as exit cards, Sketchnotes to illustrate their maths strategies and Google Slides to present their learning during our school science week. I have used technology more meaningfully in these first five weeks than I was able to do last year thanks to the culmination of my MDTA training and my university papers.

Using Google Draw to create a class infographic


Not only have I been more creative with the activities that my students are participating in online, but I am also facilitating more non-digital creative activities as well. I now have a far better understanding of the notion of using technology meaningfully - I can easily recognize when a non-digital activity might be better suited than a digital one.

                      
 Creating bird feeders as part of a wastewise lesson.    Creating a Tagul as part of a lesson on identity          

I cannot wait to see what my class are able to create as the year continues.